Researchers are only just beginning to understand the neurocognitive drivers of addiction-like eating behaviours, a highly distressing and relatively common condition. Two constructs have been consistently linked to addiction-like eating: distress-driven impulsivity and cognitive inflexibility. Despite a large body of addiction research showing that impulsivity-related traits can interact with other risk markers to result in an especially heightened risk for addictive behaviours, no study to date has examined how distress-driven impulsivity interacts with cognitive inflexibility in relation to addiction-like eating behaviours. The current study examines the interactive contribution of distress-driven impulsivity and cognitive inflexibility to addiction-like eating behaviours.
One hundred and thirty-one participants [mean age 21 years (SD = 2.3), 61.8% female] completed the modified Yale Food Addiction Scale, the S-UPPS-P impulsivity scale, and a cognitive flexibility task. A bootstrap method was used to examine the associations between distress-driven impulsivity, cognitive inflexibility, and their interaction with addiction-like eating behaviours.
There was a significant interaction effect between distress-driven impulsivity and cognitive flexibility (P = 0.03). The follow-up test revealed that higher distress-driven impulsivity was associated with more addiction-like eating behaviours among participants classified as cognitively inflexible only.
The current findings shed light on the mechanisms underlying addiction-like eating behaviours, including how traits and cognition might interact to drive them. The findings also suggest that interventions that directly address distress-driven impulsivity and cognitive inflexibility might be effective in reducing risk for addiction-like eating and related disorders.
Existing research has demonstrated that problematic smartphone use (PSU) may reflect a composition of heterogeneous symptoms, with individual PSU symptoms uniquely related to predisposing variables. The Big Five personality traits represent one of the most frequently examined predisposing variables in relation to PSU. However, no studies to date have examined the trait-to-symptom association between the Big Five personality traits and PSU. Using a network analysis approach, we aimed to understand: 1) specific pathways linking each of the Big Five personality traits to PSU symptoms and 2) the bridging effects of each Big Five personality trait on the PSU symptom cluster.
A regularised graphical Gaussian model was estimated among 1,849 Chinese university students. PSU symptoms were assessed with items from the Problematic Smartphone Use Scale. Facets of the Big Five personality traits were assessed with the subscales of the Chinese Big Five Personality Inventory-15. An empirical index (i.e., bridge expected influence) was used to quantify bridge nodes.
Results revealed specific and distinct pathways between the Big Five personality traits and PSU symptoms (e.g., Neuroticism-Escapism/Avoidance, Conscientiousness-Preoccupation and Extraversion-Escapism/Avoidance). Further, Neuroticism showed the highest positive bridge centrality among the Big Five personality traits, while Conscientiousness had the highest negative bridge centrality.
Discussion and conclusions
The current study provided direct empirical evidence concerning specific pathways between the Big Five personality traits and PSU symptoms and highlighted the influential role of Neuroticism and Conscientiousness as potential targets for early detection and treatment of PSU.